Crash12th December 2017
Published in Crash Annual 2018
Here we have an unofficial version of the Nintendo arcade game Mario Bros. from 1983. Creatures have been coming up from the sewer and, as a plumber, it's your task to get rid of them. To cleanse the pipeways, jump up underneath the infested platform to momentarily stun the creatures, and then run up to the unconscious foes to get rid of them once and for all.
The first few levels are occupied only by turtles, but the action soon hots up as other creatures are introduced, some requiring more than one hit to render them sufficiently docile enough to jump on and dispatch.
Coins can be collected to boost scores. The POW box situated on each level that acts as a smart bomb can be used only three times per game. Timed bonus levels appear every now and again where there's a chance to collect gold coins. The game features a two-player option so you can garner some help from your brother.
Be sure not to get in each other's way because you can't walk through your sibling.
As a one-player game, this is a really good version of Mario Bros. Everything moves along at the right speed and the difficulty level seems to be set just right. The AY chip provides some jolly musical ditties and spot effects. When playing this on an emulator, there is incessant screen flickering, which is distracting. This is not in evidence when playing on a real Spectrum - probably some sort of timing issue is causing it.
There are more severe problems when playing the game in two-player mode though. On occasion I noticed that player one had mysteriously amassed 255 lives and there was also some graphic corruption with static player graphics appearing in the play area. At one point the game did a full NEW mid-play and reset, which was very annoying. A redefine keys option would have been welcome too, since the default keys for the two-player game are pretty close together, resulting in the knocking of knuckles!
What we have here is a very pretty looking conversion of NES Mario Bros. The Nirvana enegine is producing some great coloured sprites and backgrounds - arguably better looking that the original - but perhaps in this case it's being pushed a bit too far.
The character movement is jerky, making it hard to gauge jumps between the platforms or over enemies, and the whole screen flickers at times. That and the lack of variety between levels mean it's technically impressive but not truly captivating.
Control keys: Player one: 6 left, 7 right, 0 jump; player two: 1 left, 2 right, 5 jump
Keyboard play: Responsive
Use of colour: Excellent - more colours per character square than a Spectrum game should be able to display
Graphics: Simplistic as per the arcade game but cute as a nut
Sound: Two nice 128K tunes and in-game spot effects
Skill levels: Three selectable game types
Special features: Nirvana engine graphics, high score table and two-player option
General rating: With more spit and polish, could've been great. The bugs don't help matters. As it is, it's just okay.